(director: Simon Celan Jones; screenwriters: Michael Brandt, based on the book “Arthur: The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home” by Mikael Lindnord; cinematographer: Jacques Jouffret; editor: Gary Roach; music: Kevin Mately; cast: Mark Wahlberg (Mikael Lindnord), Ali Suliman (Chik), Paul Guilfoyle (Charlie Light), Juliet Rylance (Helena Lindnord), Michael Landes (actor), Simu Liu (Leo), Nathalie Emmanuel (Olivia), Cece Valentina (Ruby), Ukai (Arthur The King); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Mark Wahlberg, Mark Canton, Luis Ignacio Rodriguez, Tucker Tooley, Courtney Solomon, Tessa Tooley, Stephen Levinson; Lionsgate; 2024)

“Too cheesy and manipulative.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Simon Celan Jones (“The Family Plan”) directs this heart-tugging adventure tale of a stray dog bonding with a racer. It’s based on the book “Arthur: The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home” by Mikael Lindnord, and the script is by Michael Brandt.

Though based on a true story, it becomes too cheesy and manipulative.

Mikael Lindnord (Mark Wahlberg), the  book’s author, is an “adventure racer” competing in a grueling event that involves hiking, climbing, canoeing, and other sporting events over the course of days. The frustrated racer has never won because he has ego problems that prevent him from trusting his team. Mikael takes a few years off before giving it one last try. He picks three new teammates (Simu Liu, Nathalie Emmanuel, and Ali Suliman), for the upcoming race in the Dominican Republic.

Helena (Juliet Rylance), Mikael’s wife, was a teammate on his other races, and has the thankless role of watching the race at home on her computer screen and cheering for hubby while caring for Ruby (Cece Valentina), their young daughter.

After racing for a few days a scruffy, sickly dog is following them. They decide to take him on their team and call him Arthur.

We’re stuck watching the boring race, wondering how the dog will fare and if the humans will win. To make things more interesting, I made a bet with myself that the dog would be OK and the team would win.

Wahlberg acts like he’s into the story that tells about perseverance and compassion more than about winning, and gives a solid performance as the flawed character who changes for the better because of Arthur. The rest of the supporting cast don’t fare as well.

REVIEWED ON 3/17/2024  GRADE: C+